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Allegheny County League of Municipalities recognizes 21 towns' cooperative efforts

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Municipal officials often talk about working with their counterparts in neighboring towns.

But only a portion of the 130 municipalities in Allegheny County participate in enough meaningful cooperation to be singled out for their efforts.

The Allegheny County League of Municipalities held a ceremony on Tuesday in the gallery of the courthouse Downtown to announce the selection of 21 municipalities as “Banner Communities.”

“The banner communities program takes the league's effort to improve communication, cooperation and coordination on issues that are of area-wide concern to a different level,” said county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who presided over the event. “These 21 municipalities really have set a standard of how local government should function, and should be commended for the work that they do for their residents.”

The league will provide training for municipal officials from Thursday to Sunday at its annual spring conference at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

Fitzgerald said cooperation at the municipal level is critical to the health of the region.

“Ultimately, we share the need to create jobs and economic growth — and I believe most people do want to work together because we're all in this together,” he said. “Once they sit down and talk about the common challenges their communities face, they can start to find ways to work together, particularly when money is scarce.”

Richard Hadley, the league's executive director, said the goal of this year's conference is to help municipal officials deal with their most pressing problems.

“We try to make this conference as relevant as possible, so we try to have programs on the things municipal officials have been dealing with,” Hadley said. “Our speakers will cover a wide-range of issues, including funding municipal pensions, understanding new accounting rules that can affect a municipality's credit rating and addressing roads and water and sewer system issues.”

Hadley said the organization's membership — a mix of elected and appointed officials — includes representatives from every Allegheny County municipality, as well as 20 communities in Butler, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Whitehall Councilwoman Kathy DePuy said being named a banner community is a nice way for borough officials to be recognized for their efforts.

“There's always something new that we have to deal with,” DePuy said. “How are you going to learn anything if you don't get together with other officials to talk about what they've done or are planning to do?”

Even something as basic as developing rules to regulate backyard fire pits, as Whitehall is doing, can be aided by talking with leaders in other communities.

“Whatever comes up, we try to talk to other communities to find out how they handled it, which can help us avoid having problems in the future,” she said.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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